on 03 August 2016, 10:30AM

ExtJS has become one of the most popular JavaScript frameworks available till date. It is an extensive JavaScript library with numerous components like windows, trees, layout and forms. All of these components not only look stunning but also closely resemble with desktop applications. One of the most exciting features of this framework is native support for other popular JavaScript libraries like Prototype, Scriptaculous and Jquery. With Prototype being the default choice for many of the Rails projects, ExtJS components can be easily integrated without any additional requirements.

Among the various components provided by ExtJS, Grid is certainly one of the most powerful things to use with extensive data handling features like remote sorting and pagination with inbuilt AJAX support. The Grid component can handle various data types starting from basic array to xml and json.

Here is an example of using the Grid component with Rails. We will create a page that displays a list of employees in a Grid. At the very beginning we need to download the latest ExtJS (2.02) from http://www.extjs.com/download and extract the zip file to organize the downloaded files inside our rails project folder structure. We will use the following structure to organize ExtJS specific files:

  • ext-2.0.2/resources/images/default to /public/images
  • ext-2.0.2/resources/css/ext-all.css to /public/stylesheets/
  • ext-2.0.2/ext-prototype-adapter.js to /public/javascripts/ext
  • ext-2.0.2/ext-all-debug.js to /public/javascripts/ext/ (for production environment it is recomended to use ext-all.js which is the compressed version of ext-all-debug.js).

So now we should include the necessary files inside application.html.erb file to be able to access it:

<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML  4.01//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/strict.dtd">



        <meta http-equiv="Content-Type"
    content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1" />

        <title><!-- Title goes here --></title>

        <%= stylesheet_link_tag 'ext-all.css' %>

        <%= javascript_include_tag
    "prototype", "scriptaculous", "effects",
    "ext-prototype-adapter", "ext-all-debug",
    "application" %>



        <%= yield %>



Now the next step is to prepare the view template (employees/employees.html.erb) where we are going to show the Grid with the list of employee data. Here we will place a div element with id "employee-grid" that will be used as the underlying element of the Grid component.

<div id="employee-grid"></div> Next we will write some JavaScript code to setup and render the Grid component. We will write this code inside the application.js within the Ext.onReady block, so that the Grid initializes during the page load time. In this code, first we create an Ext.data.Store object to serve as a client side data store. In the Store object we create an Ext.data.HttpProxy to bind the url to fetch the data from the server. We will use JsonReader for reading the data sent back by the server as JSON string. We will, also configure the Grid with its inbuilt capabilities of remote sorting and paging.

Finally we create the Grid, rendering within the page and call the load method of the Store object to perform initial data load.

JavaScript code: application.js Ext.onReady(function(){ // create the Data Store var store = new Ext.data.Store({ proxy: new Ext.data.HttpProxy({ url: '/employees', method: 'GET' }), // create reader that reads the Employee records reader: new Ext.data.JsonReader({ root: 'employees', totalProperty: 'total', id: 'id', fields: [ 'last_name', 'first_name', 'department', 'designation' ] }), // turn on remote sorting remoteSort: true }); store.setDefaultSort('last_name', 'asc'); // the column model has information about grid columns // dataIndex maps the column to the specific data field in // the data store var cm = new Ext.grid.ColumnModel([{ header: "Last Name", dataIndex: 'last_name', width: 150 },{ header: "First Name", dataIndex: 'first_name', width: 150 },{ header: "Department", dataIndex: 'department', width: 150 },{ header: "Designation", dataIndex: 'designation', width: 150 }]); // by default columns are sortable cm.defaultSortable = true; var grid = new Ext.grid.GridPanel({ el:'employee-grid', width:700, height:500, title:'Employee Records', store: store, cm: cm, trackMouseOver:false, sm: new Ext.grid.RowSelectionModel({selectRow:Ext.emptyFn}), loadMask: true, viewConfig: { forceFit:true /*to auto expand the size of the columns to fit the grid width and prevent horizontal scrolling*/ }, bbar: new Ext.PagingToolbar({ pageSize: 20, store: store, displayInfo: true, displayMsg: 'Displaying records {0} - {1} of {2}', emptyMsg: "No records to display" }) }); // render it grid.render(); // trigger the data store load store.load({params:{start:0, limit:25}}); });

Now we have to write the backend code to actually serve the data to the Grid component. For this purpose we will create a scaffold called employees with REST based actions. As we have used '/employees' for the data store with 'GET'method, Rails will automatically route this to '/employees/index' action. To interact with the database table we will also create a model class named Employee.

The backend code will be pretty much simple as usual. We will fetch records form the table via the Employee model class and return it to the front end as a JSON string. Rails has in-built support for JSON, so we do not require to do anything extra for it. We also need to take care of the remote sorting on the backend as the Ext Grid component passes the following four params when a Grid header is clicked: start, limit,sort,dir. Also for pagination, we will use 'will_paginate' plugin, as from version 2.0, Rails has dropped its inbuilt pagination support.

Controller Code: employees_controller.rb def index start = (params[:start] || 0).to_i size = (params[:limit] || 20).to_i page = ((start/size).to_i) + 1 sort = "#{params[:sort]} #{params[:dir]}" || "id asc" @employees = Employee.find(:all, :page => page, :per_page => size, :order => sort ) rtndata = {} rtndata[:total] = @employees.total_entries rtndata[:employees] = @employees.collect {|e| { :id => e.id, :last_name => e.last_name, :first_name => e.first_name, :department => e.department, :designation => e.designation }} respond_to do |format| format.json { render :json => rtndata.to_json } end end

Thats it! These are the basic steps needed to integrate the Ext Grid component with Rails backend.

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